European Union business funding will continue after Brexit, community leaders have pledged.

Cash from the EU helps Cumbria Business Growth Hub to provide grants and advice to businesses, including start-ups.

It has helped 7,500 businesses since 2012, and 2,700 potential start-ups, boosting the county’s economy by £252 million in GVA.

Suzanne Caldwell, deputy chief executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, the lead partner in the Growth Hub, said: “Our services are funded by the chamber and its partners.

“They include Sellafield Ltd. Carlisle City and South Lakeland Councils, Cumbria LEP, Penrith Industrial BID and, crucially, the European Regional Development Fund.

“We can reassure the county’s businesses that Brexit won’t have an impact on Growth Hub services. Indeed, we’re in the process of recruiting more advisers.

“The Government has assured us that funding will continue until 2023.

"By then, the UK Shared Prosperity Fund should be in place to fill the gap left by the withdrawal of ERDF money."

Meanwhile, Cumbria Chamber of Commerce expects the UK’s departure from the European Union at 11pm tonight to have little or no immediate impact on Cumbrian businesses.

Chief executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, Rob Johnston, said: “Brexit day is symbolic rather than substantive.

“The crunch comes when the transition period ends on December 31. If the UK hasn’t negotiated a new trading agreement with the EU by then, there will be major changes.

“We’ll be monitoring the progress of trade talks closely and working with businesses to ensure they are prepared for whatever scenario unfolds.”